in about 100 words or less
Japan 110m, B&W
Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cast: Toshirō Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada
Following the story of a masterless Samurai for hire, Yojimbo is one of the most influential films of the western action genre. It stars the incomparable Toshiro Mifune as a cunning Samurai who uses his formidable sword skills for profit as he sways the balance of power in a town which has been taken over by two opposing gangs. While his initial motives are for personal gain, he soon takes pity on the most victimized of the citizenry and his motives become increasingly altruistic. This is one of the most exciting and darkly humorous of Kurosawa’s films, and probably the most entertaining. It also helped establish modern western archetypes which were popularized in the 1960s and 70s by Sergio Leone’s remake A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and a number of subsequent so-called “Spaghetti Westerns” (Klaus Ming January 2011).